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Tasteful San Antonio: dining out

There wasn't much to look forward to when I came to San Antonio – a painful but quick suicide was first on my list – but I did think, well, at least there will be some good Mexican food to be had. This was, of course, before I discovered that, for reasons that are still unclear to me, San Antonio does not have much good Mexican food, or indeed much good food of any kind. In fact, the most reliably tasty food I have thus far found in this city is a Chicago hot dog stand downtown. However, there have been a few culinary adventures along the way.

One of the first things I did when I got here was to check the local alt-weekly for their 'best-of' restaurants, which are usually a reliable guide to fine dining wherever you are. It should have been a bad sign right off the bat that it took several weeks to ascertain that San Antonio actually has an alt-weekly, but once I did, it so happened that I was just in time for their food issue. Reading the intro material, though, I was mildly horrified to discover that there was a raging debate – not only between readers and editors, but within the editorial staff itself – over whether or not to include chain restaurants in the best-of ratings. In the end, the editors explained, they decided that chain joints would be included, if for no other reason than excluding them would leave the paper with not enough restaurants to write about. Think about that for a minute, and remember: 1.6 million people in this town.

(Also, the restaurant – independently owned, not a chain – they picked as their cover feature, a barbeque joint called the Pig Stand, closed down a week after the issue came out due to tax issues.)

Other adventurers in cuisine:

- There is one (1) vegetarian restaurant in all of San Antonio. Which, you know, not that big a deal for me, as I won't eat anything that didn't cost a life, but still: the eighth-largest city in the country, and there's one vegetarian restaurant? Madness.

- One of the few good downtown dining options was a place called Café Sirius, which, up until a few weeks ago when they took a summer break, served delicious tacos, including one of the better brisket tacos I've ever had. When they came back from break, apparently the owners decided that tacos were just too darn exotic for this town, and they now feature nothing but awful burgers and crappy grilled sandwiches.

- I have already complained extensively about the lack of delivery options available, but I would also like to complain about the lack of takeout options available. And for goodness' sake, in Ireland there's a Chinese takeaway joint on every street corner. Here? Jack O'Shittigan.

- Since the whole city is plagued with chain restaurants, I figured I would at least try some chains that are unfamiliar to me. So I headed to a nearby representative of Austin-based Delaware Subs, thinking it might be an edible alternative to Subway. The place had all its windows blacked out with paint, and a big-screen TV was blaring some foreign-language broadcast, and no one was behind the counter. Every molecule of the place screamed "the murder of human beings is planned, if not actually carried out, here". So, I can't tell you whether Delaware Subs are any good or not.

- One thing S.A. has in abundance is really good liquor stores. This is probably due to the total lack of really good anything else.



Jul. 24th, 2007 05:14 pm (UTC)
Guajillos (at the corner of 410 and Blanco) is excellent. www.guajillos.com
Jul. 24th, 2007 05:17 pm (UTC)
Weird that about Ireland, right? A tiny town with no supermarket, no gas station, barely half a Guiness fart amongst them, and you can find a passable General Tso's served by a real life person of Asian descent.
Jul. 24th, 2007 05:32 pm (UTC)
I had pretty good Mexican food in Juneau, Alaska.

San Antonio has no excuse.
Jul. 24th, 2007 05:37 pm (UTC)
Delaware Subs is Austin-based? I did not know that. The only one locally is next to a down-market prosthetics store and looks like it might be run by the same people. Perhaps "uninviting" is their mission statement.

There are three branches of Austin's more agreeable Thunderscloud Subs in San Antonio's if you're craving a sammidge - functional and not too unhealthy, unless they've SanAntoniozed the menu and stuffed it with pigs' cheek, gizzards and tripes.

Trying to remember where I've eaten in San Antonio and all I'm getting is a memory of lard.

Jul. 25th, 2007 07:26 am (UTC)
Having grown up in Arizona, I recongize the inherent superiority of Sonoran-style. Those pitiable individuals hailing from Texas would insist that the laughably-named "Tex-Mex" is the superior. Perhaps the city of San Antonio has decided to bow to a superior cuisine?
Jul. 25th, 2007 04:37 pm (UTC)
i don't recall the name of the place, but wherever it was that i had tacos and margaritas along the riverwalk last year (rosario's, maybe?) was pretty damn good. that or i was getting low blood sugar and that holy combination of alcohol and tortillas was enough to adversely affect my memory.

also, doesn't liberty bar have good food?


flavored with age
Gun-totin', Chronic-smokin' Hearse Initiator
Ludic Log


Leonard Pierce is a freelance writer wandering around Texas with no sleep or sense of direction. If you give him money he will write something for you. If you are nice to him he may come to your house and get drunk.

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